Jeff Howkins is President and CEO of Ascensus College Savings (formerly Upromise Investments, Inc.). He is responsible for the vision, strategy, leadership, and growth of the organization. Since becoming President, Jeff has overseen the growth of the company from $21B in assets to $57B, making Ascensus College Savings the industry's largest 529 plan administrator. Jeff, who joined Ascensus College Savings in 2004 as Chief Operating Officer, played a key role in the development of the operations, personnel, and resources associated with the firm's growth. In this role, he directed the day-to-day activities of the firm including responsibility for technology, relationship management, planning, client service and call centers, and finance.
Prior to joining Ascensus College Savings, Jeff was Chief Risk Officer for Old Mutual Asset Management, managing risk and related operational activities across the firm's twenty-two affiliates. He also served as Chief Information Officer for Mellon Institutional Asset Management, with overall responsibility for domestic and international technology development, platform integration, and operational execution for 10 investment boutiques with over $330B in assets under management. Before moving to the field of financial services, Jeff spent more than a decade in the defense and aerospace industry.
Jeff holds a B.A. degree from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well as FINRA Series 7, 26, 27 & 51 licenses.
Chief Operating Officer
Kevin Cox, the Chief Operating Officer at Ascensus College Savings (formerly Upromise Investments, Inc.), has nearly 20 years of operational and relationship management experience in the financial services/defined contribution industry. Since joining Ascensus College Savings in 2003, Kevin has served in a variety of roles, providing valuable oversight and project management for nearly every 529 plan conversion at Ascensus College Savings. Kevin has been instrumental in leading and supporting the growth of Ascensus College Savings, and currently provides executive oversight for all operations related to the 529 business line including technology, client services, risk management, investment operations, systems analysis, and product development.
Prior to joining Ascensus College Savings, Kevin was an Assistant Vice President at MFS Investment Management, where he oversaw the relationship management group for MFS' institutional 401(k) accounts, and played a leadership role in building a custom administration product for mid-to-large market 401(k) clients. During his tenure at MFS, he was involved in the conversion of over sixty 401(k) plans.
Kevin holds a B.A. in Economics and English from Lehigh University, graduated with honors from the Boston College Carroll Graduate School of Management M.B.A. program, and holds FINRA Series 7, 26 and 63 licenses.
Sandy Madden is the General Counsel of Ascensus College Savings (formerly Upromise Investments, Inc.). She is responsible for the delivery of legal services to the company, including management of the legal department which provides legal support in connection with 529 plan launches, conversions and day-to-day 529 plan operations. Sandy joined Ascensus College Savings in 2012 and brings extensive knowledge of securities laws, corporate governance and compliance issues related to investment companies, investment advisors, and investment-related service providers. She has been an attorney in the financial services industry for the past 18 years.
Prior to joining Ascensus College Savings, Sandy was General Counsel for Quantitative Investment Advisors, Inc., a registered investment advisor and investment management company, where she provided legal advice relating to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Investment Company Act of 1940, the in-house transfer agent and broker dealer. Sandy was also responsible for all aspects of mutual fund board governance and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, she oversaw the relationship with the Board, provided presentations to the Board, and led Board meetings. Sandy also acted as Corporate Secretary of the Fund and was a member of the Valuation Committee of the Fund.
Sandy also has experience as legal counsel with MetLife Advisers, LLC and Investors Bank & Trust Company, where she provided strategic legal and business advice involving regulatory compliance, product development, distribution arrangements, and other business initiatives.
Sandy is a graduate of the Suffolk University Law School, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a member of the Massachusetts and New York Bar Associations.
Sr. Vice President, Business Development
Peg has been with Ascensus College Savings since 2004. She has led multiple client platform customizations and conversions, and has worked extensively with clients and partners to develop new features and functionality for the Unite platform. Peg leverages this strong operational background and in-depth understanding of our platform to help our clients and partners grow their 529 plans and Ascensus College Savings explore new business opportunities. She works with both the marketing and product teams on product development initiatives to drive asset growth for our plans. Additionally, she is responsible for establishing industry partnerships and finding opportunities for thought leadership in the college savings industry.
Prior to joining Ascensus College Savings, Peg led a Business Systems team at Advanced Micro Devices that was responsible for developing and supporting business application for the sales, finance, human resource, and manufacturing quality organizations.
Peg holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from Cornell University.
Sr. Vice President, Platform Architecture/Product Management
Scott leads the team with overall responsibility for design of the capabilities of the Unite 529 platform, the conversion of 529 plans, and integration with other platform subsystems. Scott rejoined Ascensus College Savings in 2014 after nine prior years of guiding key platform initiatives such as the Quick View Advisor Portal, the Ugift gifting functionality, and the successful completion of 529 plan conversions for fourteen states.
Scott brings more than 20 years of diverse experience in financial systems analysis, including fund accounting and custody systems at Investors Bank & Trust, mutual fund transfer agent systems with First Data, 401(k) administration systems at Putnam Investments, and most recently portfolio management systems at Charles River Development.
Scott holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University and an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University. Scott has also served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Vice President, Operational Risk Management & Analytics
Rob has over 19 years of financial services experience, having spent six years at Fidelity Investments before joining Ascensus College Savings in 2002. In his current role, Rob oversees all aspects of operational controls and audit, client service training and quality, and data analytics. During his tenure at Ascensus College Savings, Rob was responsible for business development analytics, project management, and served as relationship manager for the states of Arkansas and North Carolina.
While at Fidelity, Rob was a Reporting Manager in the 529 College Investment Trust, Client Service Manager in the Variable Annuities Group, and a Product Manager in the Legal Product Group. While in the 529 group, Rob was actively involved in the initial implementation of plans for New Hampshire and Delaware.
Rob holds a B.A. in Economics and Communication from Stonehill College, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, with concentrations in Finance, Accounting and Economics, as well as FINRA Series 7 and 24 licenses.
Chief Information Officer
As Chief Information Officer, Matt sets the strategic vision for Ascensus College Savings Technology and has overall responsibility for technology development, quality assurance, data warehouse, reporting, technical operations, and systems documentation - leading a team of more than 50 technology experts across these functional areas.
Matt has been with Ascensus College Savings since its inception and has been a leader in the planning, development, and execution of every major platform initiative, including Ascensus College Savings' original 529 system implementation with Vanguard. Matt has technical expertise across the full range of back-office and front-office applications, including experience implementing online account opening, account management, and account distribution systems. He has also been instrumental in recruiting and building the Ascensus College Savings technology team, hiring and training developers from industry leaders such as Fidelity, State Street, and Putnam.
Chief Compliance Officer
John serves as Ascensus College Savings Chief Compliance Officer, where he oversees an array of important mandates, including matters such as developing and enhancing policies and procedures; managing a team of compliance professionals; overseeing testing and internal examinations; interfacing with regulators, collaborating with executive management as well as other daily requirements. John has nearly 20 years of compliance and regulatory experience and has been with the company since March of 2012. Previously, John was an Associate Director with Sun Life Financial for seven years where he was responsible for its affiliated broker dealer's compliance program.
Prior to joining Sun Life, John worked in various compliance roles for Babson Capital Management, BISYS Regulatory Services and Natixis. Previously, John spent 3 1/2 years as a field examiner out of FINRA's Boston District office.
John is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and holds FINRA Series 7, 24, 27, 51 and 63 licenses.